Why Local Activists Protest the Great Bull RunPosted by Alexis Braun, ALDF Litigation Clerk on December 26, 2013
As the cruelty of the Pamplona, Spain bull run has become more contentious, two American lawyers, Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder have brought the bull run to America. Over ten events have been scheduled for this year and next. On August 24, 2013, the first of these events was held outside Richmond, Virginia. Two people were rushed to the hospital and several dozen others required first aid for minor cuts and bruises. According to Dickens, some participants in the run “complained that there weren’t enough injuries. People running wanted more injuries and more danger. That’s what people sign up for.”
The second Bull Run occurred outside Atlanta, Georgia, on October 19, and at least one person was injured. The next run was scheduled to take place in Baytown, Texas, outside Houston, on December 7. On December 3, ALDF sent a letter to the Honorable Jimmy Sylvia, informing him of the need for a permit for mass gatherings as required by the Texas Health & Safety Code. Noting that no application for a mass gathering permit had been filed, ALDF called on the Judge to stop the event from taking place.
The day following the release of the letter, Dickens postponed the Baytown event until January 25, 2014, due to “inclement weather.” The run was conveniently postponed so that the sponsors had the opportunity to file a timely application for a permit. This skirting of the law was not the first time the promoters failed to apply for proper permits. Officials from the Georgia Department of Agriculture were forced to grant permits at the last minute before the Atlanta run, when the promoters failed to apply for veterinary inspection permits. Given that Dickens and Scudder are attorneys themselves (who “realized that paperwork wasn’t their cup of tea”), these failures to apply for proper permits for an event that poses a serious danger to public safety appears as a routine disregard for the law.
Houston activists remain dedicated to protesting the event, but their main concern is not the failure to apply for proper permits on time, or even for public safety. A petition calling for the cancellation of the Baytown run received thousands of signatures and highlights the cruelty of an event which forces “frightened, agitated bulls to run along an enclosed track for the supposed amusement of humans.” Over 5,000 people signed a petition asking for the cancellation of the bull run in Virginia, and more than 8,000 signed a similar petition for the Georgia Bull Run.
The cruelty activists see when they look at bull runs in Pamplona or the United States is not just limited to the end of the run when the bulls may be beaten, tortured, and killed. Those who oppose events like the Great Bull Run know that animals experience fear. In the words of Temple Grandin, “The single worst thing you can do to an animal emotionally is to make it feel afraid. Fear is so bad for animals, I think it’s worse than pain.”
Mr. Dickens and company may not think causing an animal to feel fear for our own amusement constitutes animal cruelty, but there are many who disagree. And those Americans will be the ones who stand with signs on dusty gravel roads leading up to the next ten Great Bull run events scheduled in the United States.